Jameis Winston Cited for Shoplifting After Leaving Publix with $32 in Seafood

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

On the night of April 29, 2014, Florid State University quarterback Jameis Winston was arrested after he reportedly left a Publix near FSU’s campus with crab legs and other seafood that he did not pay for.  The Heisman Trophy winning sophomore was issued a citation for the $32.00 theft and has been entered in to the diversion program run by Leon County where he will complete community service and pay a fine.  Winston claimed that he simply forgot to pay for the food by mistake.  He is currently under suspension from FSU’s baseball team while awaiting the outcome of his serving his sentence.

Usually, shoplifting is considered petit theft if the amount of merchandise stolen from the store is under $100.  This is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and a person who is found guilty of petit theft could face a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.  Wilson could have very well been charged this way and have faced similar consequences.

However in 2012, with the idea of keeping non-violent first offenders of minor crimes out of jail, Leon County launched a pilot adult citation program meant to rehabilitate rather than simply punish such offenders.  In this program, someone who commits certain crimes such as underage drinking, petit theft, trespassing or gambling could possibly qualify for a program to keep them out of jail and keep the crime off of their criminal record.  The idea behind this is to ultimately save the state billions by keeping people out of jail who may not need to be there.

In order to qualify for the adult citation program, the person charged must have committed a non-violent and minor crime and be a first time offender.  The accused must complete a number of different things including community service, restitution, paying a fine and other things to help determine what caused the crime and what may keep it from being committed again.  Ultimately, if the program is completed successfully, the person’s criminal record will be clear.

Jameis Wilson has been enrolled in the program and will be completing 20 hours of community service in 7 days along with paying a $30 fine and paying Publix back for the stolen goods.  According to the Leon County Sheriff, the store that Wilson allegedly stole from agreed to this punishment.  As a result, Wilson will be avoiding the jail time he could have faced for shoplifting and, assuming he completes this program as required, he will maintain a clean criminal record.